A Playing Of Roles: Game Of Thrones

By Adam Smith on December 5th, 2011 at 4:03 pm.

It's a bit like musical chairs

This is the RPG Of Thrones, not the duff strategy one. News comes via Sean Bean, who just lobbed a brick through my window with this note attached.

“‘Ow do. Who would have thunk that an ordinary lad from Yorkshire would become the King of the Rings and the Warrior Lord of Westeros? Not me mam. She said I were too mardy for t’be loved by millions. This ‘ere game then. There’s two fellas to make pretend as – Mors, from yon Night’s Watch, and Alester, a Red Priest come back from flippin’ exile. Aye. Ye’ll tek a gander at that Wall oop north, which I’m nithered just to put mind to, an’ all folks in it’ll look jus’ like actors on telly.”

Intriguing, I’m sure you’ll agree. Elaboration and new images below.

There’s confirmation in Mr Bean’s gentle musings, for those who didn’t know, that the look of the game is directly based on the TV show. So it’s A Game of a TV Series of a Book of Some Thrones. Sean didn’t mention it but the ‘thirty hours’ of content is proclaimed again, as it seems to be in every press release. I’m eternally dubious of claims as to game length, both their veracity and their worth, but there you have it. Then there is this:

In “Game of Thrones”, you will choose the class of your characters, find your fighting style, reach a good balance between your strengths and weaknesses, and get ready for epic battles! Find, buy or loot new equipment and weapons to fit your approach of the fights, and gain experience to improve your skills or learn new ones. Slow the time down during battle to analyze the situation and choose your next moves. In game of thrones, political skills can be as lethal as a sharpen sword, so never underestimate the power of a silver tongue to solve a critical situation!

So, it’s an RPG with classes, experience, equipment and a strategic slow-down option. Thirty hours of that kinda thing. It could be brilliant but there’s still not a huge amount to go on and it is due out early 2012. Footage should be coming our way soon. What else is there…it’s running on Unreal Engine 3? Did everyone know that? Probably.

Oh! Screenshots. These really are new. Click to grow ‘em.

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75 Comments »

  1. pipman3000 says:

    it’s not a true rpg unless it’s turn-based

    • pipman3000 says:

      A Real Time Strategic Game With Increasing Statistics Where You Can Also Find Items And Equipment To Increase Those Statistics Even More But Only When Worn Or Wielded Of Thrones

    • Makariel says:

      It’s people like you that prevent us from having a space station on Mars.

    • archimandrite says:

      It’s not a true RPG unless you’re sitting in your parents’ basement drinking mountain dew, listening to a kid with acne and a dozen beard hairs talk in funny voices. Ah, memories.

    • Wizardry says:

      Hey look, it’s another action game with some RPG elements claiming to be an RPG!

    • sneetch says:

      You’re right Wizardry, they should confirm to your definition of RPG or else they’re not allowed use the term. Don’t they know you were appointed the Grand Arbiter of such things? Don’t they care? Such dissidents must be rooted out!

    • Arglebargle says:

      Cue pedantic discussions about how definitions never change. And my definition is always right! Maybe we can delve into creating all sorts of sub and sub-sub genres just like the music scene….

      Hopefully the game will actually be good enough to justify the verbage.

    • NathanH says:

      To be fair to poor old Wizardry, you have to feel sorry for someone whose favourites types of games have mostly gone away and will probably never come back. Imagine if the types of games you liked stopped being made, so you were watching all the other game genres marching on with lots of improvements, while you sit there thinking “imagine what fun i could be having if they made the sorts of games that I like, but with the improvements that come with technology and experience”. Then just to make things worse, everyone is using the label that used to be attached to the games you love to all these new things you don’t like, just in case you hadn’t been kicked enough.

      Anyone here could end up in the same boat in 15 years time, so have some sympathy for the fellow.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      Indeed. Like Wizardry I’d be making similar comments if my favourite genres and game mechanics were on the wane too.

      To take a trivial example, I miss proper interfaces in games, and the ability to name saves, arrange my inventory and keep my own notes in-game (NWN had a journal you could use for example).

      These are comparitively minor things compared with the hiuge amount of ‘streamlining’ that the average old skool RPGer has had to put up with over the years. Skyrim and Dragon Age pretty much dealt a death blow to stats and classes, and the idea that one’s progress in a game depends on the character’s abilities, not the player’s, has gone right out the window.

      Whereas I’m not a hardcore RPG player, I find myself sympathising.

    • Wizardry says:

      @NathanH: Precisely.

      To illustrate… In 1992 Dynamix started work on a cRPG set in a world created for a series of fantasy novels by Raymond E. Feist. It would naturally be turn-based because that’s what cRPGs were all about, and that’s what was popular at the time. The game was Betrayal at Krondor.

      In 2010 Cyanide started work on a cRPG based on a series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. It would naturally be a real-time game because that’s what makes the most money and appeals to the most people. It is this Game of Thrones thing.

      I know which one will be thought of fondly in 20 years time and it’s not this game.

    • archimandrite says:

      Genres mutate, evolve, and cross-breed. I love turn-based RPGs, but sadly they’re not being made by big companies anymore(not much money there — it’s a small number of people who like them). You can always go back and play the classics(which there are plenty of), or explore the indie turn-based games that are still being made.

      I’ll compare it to film noir: proper film noir was made from the 1930s to the 1950s, and not really after that. Sure, there are plenty of movies(and videogames) since then that were heavily influenced by film noir, and there are a few that deliberately try to make a modern film noir(Chinatown, the Grifters, L.A. Confidential), but none of them are the real thing. Good thing the old movies still exist.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      To be fair to poor old Wizardry, you have to feel sorry for someone whose favourites types of games have mostly gone away and will probably never come back.

      They haven’t gone away, they’ve just moved to consoles…

    • Unaco says:

      @Wizardry

      Maybe this game won’t be viewed fondly in 20 years time… But what about Mass Effect 1/2, or Dragon Age 1, or The Witcher 1/2, or Skyrim? Morrowind? Fallout3? New Vegas? They’ll (most likely) be looked back upon quite fondly.

      I always figured that, yes, the turn based nature of early cRPGs was due to the systems that were used and their rigidity… but also down to technical limitations. Technology has moved on and real time games are much more feasible.

      The derision and dismissal of real time RPGs, that they aren’t RPGs unless they’re turn based, reminds me of the derision and dismissal of ‘the talkies’ by the Silent movie crowd.

    • killias2 says:

      And here I thought the Baldur’s Gate games, Dungeon Master, the Ultima Underworld games, Eye of the Beholder, the Elder Scrolls games, the Neverwinter Nights games, the Icewind Dale games and Divinity II were all RPGs. I guess they’re pretty much all twitch-based action games instead, eh?

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Technology has moved on and real time games are much more feasible.

      This is true, but they’re much less tactical. ME 1/2, Dragon Age, Witchers, Skyrim, all massively less complex and tactical than any of the Infinity Engine games, or X-COM etc.

    • killias2 says:

      @Funky: The Infinite engine games are all real-time….

    • Unaco says:

      I would disagree… I think it’s just a different type of tacticality that’s required for them. I’d definitely disagree that they are ‘less complex’. A game being real time does not necessarily mean it can’t be heavily tactical though… SWAT4, Rainbow 6 spring to mind immediately.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      True – but pausable. And that’s how they’re played, surely. Pause at the end of each round, issue orders etc.
      Tactical complexity: Turn Grid based > Real time pausable / non-grid > Third Person action > first person action.

      Edit: good point Unaco – although those 2 are far from typical.

    • killias2 says:

      That’s an awfully loaded equation, especially as the Infinity engine games are often cited as the best cRPGs of all time. Also, Dungeon Master/Ultima Underworld/Eye of the Beholder and its offshoots are unambiguously real-time, as is the entire Elder Scrolls series. Additionally, Dragon Age Origins and DA2 are both real-time pausable.. I’m not sure you want to make an argument based on saying all turn-based games are better than Baldur’s Gate and that DAO and DA2 are better than Dungeon Master and Morrowind.

      Hell, there’s a whole category of RPGs that let you choose (arguably, the entire Fallout series, the later Might and Magic games, etc.). Where do you categorize them? Are they only being good RPG’s if you play them in TB mode?

    • Zelius says:

      Christ, not this shit again…

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Didn’t say “better”, said “more tactically complex”.

      Eye of the Beholder is indeed real-time, but the tactically complexities (facing, party order, grid movement etc.) are hardwired into the game, its certainly not strafe-and-shoot a la Skyrim (if you’re playing an archer)…

    • Werthead says:

      “I know which one will be thought of fondly in 20 years time and it’s not this game.”

      I don’t think anyone will be thinking of BETRAYAL AT KRONDOR at all in twenty years time. It’s a pretty obscure game now (sadly, as it was great for its time), for that matter.

    • Wulf says:

      Gah, don’t do that! I was about to facepalm and enter into another foray as to how the RPG has evolved from characterless and humourless number-fondling to truly interactive storytelling. (Perhaps lacking in the interactivity aspects at some points, but most developers are taking it in a direction I’d very much like to see it go.)

      Ultimately, it’s just that Wizardry has been left in the past. It might happen to me too when all role-playing games become like CoD and the only choice you’re given is whether you want to keep playing or not. And at that point everything will just melt down into one genre, where you’re actually watching a 3D generated film where you just press a button occasionally (as you’re prompted to) to make the film continue. With odd pauses in the flow of the that you can’t get through no matter how much you mash your button.

      When that happens, I’ll be lamenting the total loss of interactivity. But so long as CD Projekt Red, Obsidian, Larian Studios, and even Bethesda (with my unending love-hate relationship of them) continue to exist, then I should be okay.

      Thing with Wizardry is that if he thinks that there’s such a market for the kind of game he wants? Prove it. Really guy, make a stand, and show developers that there are people who’re willing to be heard. Make a site and surround it with a KickStarter project, with a decent donation goal and only one, small donation cost available. If a lot of people are willing to vote with their wallet, knowing that they’ll get nothing back out of it other than helping with this stunt, then it may make developers sit up and listen.

      Though really, personally speaking, I’m glad for the interactive story sort of RPG that we have today. It makes me happy that I’m playing a role, which I always thought was the point of an RPG.

    • pipman3000 says:

      the hope that someday someone might release a true turn based rpg instead of another one of those real time usurpers is the only reason wizardry hasn’t drank that bottle of fox glove he keeps beside his bed.

      “rpgs” like this game are literally killing him.

    • pipman3000 says:

      GOTY am i right folks?

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      It’s not a true RPG unless you can fuck your own ass with a sufficiently gangly penis you gave your character with dice rolls.

      Both statements have as much legitimacy.

    • Gira says:

      Wizardry seems to be the only person worth listening to on these boards any more. I realise so many of you seem to be compelled by the shock of the new to an almost Pavlovian extent, but the fact is, real-time Cinematic Emotional action games with conversation trees and Moral Choices aren’t RPGs. In fact, many earlier RPGs didn’t even bother with branching storylines, desirable as they are, because that wasn’t the point. RPGs had a strong foundation in tactical wargames, and were extrapolated from that into party-based (and occasionally single-avatar-based) adventures. Any given combat encounter in these games – well, the good ones – required a significant amount of tactical analysis and preparation.

      This was incredibly compelling, and it’s a tremendous shame that BioWare’s template of just throwing endless pointless trash mobs at players over and over again until the next conversation tree has become the standard for RPG design. BioWare made combat irrelevant, so it’s no wonder that the majority of its furry playerbase seems inclined towards a “skip combat” button so they can get back to romancing party members.

      The assumption that these games were turn- or phase-based due to technical limitations is also a fallacy. The earliest videogames were real-time, and RPGs were more than capable of having real-time combat much earlier than when it became the norm. It’s just that real-time combat necessitates the development of new complex adaptive combat systems that most games developers just aren’t skilled enough to create, so you end up with simplistic grind-fests.

      You can bicker and moan and wail about how people like me and Wizardry are simply “stuck in the past” or whatever, but it’s inarguable that the games Wizardry refers to as “RPGs” (which, I might add, everyone used to refer to as “RPGs”) have absolutely nothing in common with what games publishers are calling RPGs now. Nothing. The only thing Fallout has in common with Fallout 3 is its (butchered, misappropriated) setting. As games – that is, as systems of interacting game mechanics – they are completely and utterly unrelated, and I know which one I’d rather play.

      Whether or not these barely multilinear conversation action games have any lasting merit is a separate argument. Personally, I love The Witcher series, but I think the Dragon Effect games are abominations unto God. But you can’t say one is an evolution from the other. They’re just completely different, and arguably belong in a different publishing category. (Although this won’t happen, as “RPG” has become the new marketing buzzword for anything with a multilinear conversation tree and a Cinematic Moral Choice or two in it.)

      Oh, well, bring on Dead State. It will save us all.

    • InternetBatman says:

      @makariel Wouldn’t it be a Mars station if it was on Mars?

  2. Domothy says:

    The emphasis on fighting has me somewhat concerned.

    • riadsala says:

      That fact that it’s developed by Cyanide has me somewhat concerned.

    • Bfox says:

      All these people being somewhat concerned has me somewhat concerned.

    • Viserion says:

      I was concerned like you but then I took an arrow in the knee…

      (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    • Werthead says:

      The good news is that it’s not the Cyanide team who made the awful strategy game. It’s a new studio operating on another continent, although the association is still not a positive one. I’m hoping that HBO are playing a role in quality control and QA, since they tend to be particular over who gets to handle their licences (especially since their last venture into gaming was the terrible SOPRANOS game).

  3. Berzee says:

    I’ve no interest in this game unless I hear amazing things about it, but I have much interest in your continued correspondence with Shawn Bawn.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      Indeed — what with their Twitters and Facebooks and e-mails and what not, kids today just don’t appreciate the subtle joys of the old-fashioned art of brick-through-window correspondence…

  4. Schadenfreude says:

    I think they’d like it to be like the Witcher 2. I’d like that too, but I’m not optimistic.

  5. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    The skill tree will have an incest perk.

  6. sonofsanta says:

    Well those screenshots look incredibly generic and unexceptional.

    Which is in stark contrast (geddit?) to your excellent written impersonation of Sean Bean, First Living Saint of the North.

    • Tuco says:

      They look decent, which is fine enough IF the game is going to be good.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I love how here in the US we have this view of England (or the UK, or Great Britain, or whatever the fuck else it might be called) as being tasteful, polite, quiet, and (deservedly) snooty, while all of the evidence provided on the internet by actual Englishmen makes the country out to be like a West Virginia trailer park.

    • westyfield says:

      @ Drinking with Skeletons

      That’s only The North. We don’t go there any more.

    • Max Ursa says:

      they don’t come up north as they’re scared…

      soft southern ponces

      @drinking with skeletons like any nation, we have our dregs and undesirables along with our more presentable citizens. yours are just a lot more spread out than ours, considerably less land mass here and all that.

    • Unaco says:

      If North England is “The North”, then what’s Scotland? Is that ‘Beyond the Wall’? You’re all Southrons to me.

    • Felixader says:

      I have heard quite the opposite from various people that the most kind people of the English Ilands are to be met in the North of said locale.

      The most horrible story beeing from a friend of mine that had the experience of a group and one of of them beeing attacked and hit with a car sign by guys around 15 to twenty, so they had to get her friend to a hospital.
      They were on a schoool trip, they guys shouted racist commentary, they weren’t even black or something.
      I am not saying that THIS is what i apply to every Englishman (as oppossed to Scotsman?), in NO way i would do that, but the overal more friendly regions were told to me to be in the North.

  7. Randomer says:

    I will be very disappointed if it does not have permanent, dramatic, and sometimes seemingly pointless deaths of party members/player characters. And everyone else.

    Also, I want a scene where I’ve lost all my equipment and I’m thrown into the thick of battle. There I must eke out survival by scavenging meager arms and armor off fallen comrades/foes.

    In order to be good, this game has to be gritty and anything but heroic. I require at least three paths through each scenario, and the “good” path always ends with the weakest rewards and direst consequences. The bad guys and jerks must always triumph in the end (until someone worse feeds them to a bear).

    If these guys can get all this right, the game will be awesome.

    • Stevostin says:

      Agreed. RPG Gamedesigners always forget that there is no fullfilment in owning anything without the potentiality to loose it.

    • Dannygeist says:

      I’m with you on that one, although it might end up stirring controversy if you decide to play a female character (if the option’s available) because you’d pretty much have to have sex with everyone and everything in order to maintain whatever bits of power you scrounged up by having sex wih everyone and everything. Also you’ll end up being an insufferably unlikeable character… Unless voiced by Jennifer Hale.

    • pipman3000 says:

      i hope they include the option to play a female characer so the series gross fans will whine and moan about political correctness or something.

    • Werthead says:

      Having been a moderator on the main ASoIaF forum for six years, I can say there have been times when the majority of members of that forums (now numbering in the tens of thousands) have been female. And obviously anyone who’s read the books knows that there are plenty of female characters who have agency, power and/or influence without resorting to sex (Arya, Sansa and Brienne for starters). Playing a female character in this setting would be an interesting challenge, and certainly one that would be popular with the fans (male and female).

      However, you can’t. There’s two set, named characters and both are male. Bit of a missed opportunity there.

  8. ZIGS says:

    If only you could grow anything by clicking on it…

  9. Italia says:

    Wrong Thread

  10. Smashbox says:

    I don’t want a story. I just want the world.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Let me control [slight book spoilers] Beric Dondarrion and lead the Brotherhood Without Banners. Let me give orders, run from armies, get food, be Robin Hood. They only need make the Riverlands. It would be smaller and more focused and Better on the Budget.

  11. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    The problem with advertising RPGs as having a focus on dialogue and “silver tongues” is that there’s not much you a game can do beyond speech checks. Even then, there’s a wide range of ways to approach them, and all of them will piss somebody off.

    They should just advertise the game as being non-linear or featuring a wide range of skills rather than promising something we know they will fall short on.

    • diamondmx says:

      Deus Ex’s social boss fights are a step in the right direction, I think.

      Let the player, if they’re so inclined, investigate the motivations and intentions of the characters; let them choose the right things to say at the right time to force their adversaries into a weakened position; then let them make those same people stumble into a verbal trap that snaps shut on them.

      The only problems with this approach are:
      That you need the information to be accessible to players without seeming forced, and some players can read more into information than others.
      That punishment/reward balance has not been explored the way it has for combat mechanics – it is not fun to have them be effectively quicktime events, nor is it fun for them to be trials of quicksave/quickload patience.

  12. sneetch says:

    I’m watching it on Sky at the moment and I keep waiting to hear Sean Bean say “There’s trouble at t’wall!” I presume it’s towards t’end of t’series.

  13. appropriate touching says:

    “all folks in it’ll look jus’ like actors on telly.”

    Oh no :(

    King Tesco Advert was really distracting in the TV adaptation.

  14. bleeters says:

    Flappy tabards.

    I approve of you, flappy tabards.

  15. Moth Bones says:

    Next time you encounter the estimable thespian legume, please ask him where in buggery is the Red Riding RPG…

  16. bluebottle says:

    ‘Appen I’ll buy it if it’s reet proper good.

  17. LockjawNightvision says:

    Hilariously illiterate press release notwithstanding, this looks sort of cool.

  18. Maldomel says:

    They sure seem to like hoodies…

  19. Astalnar says:

    Blashemy, to have such wonderfull and epic world in your hands and then knowingly use version of a TV series. This is one of greater sins and should be punishable by agony and pain in deepest circles of hell.

    In all honesty, I lost all hope for this game after I heared they are making it now bassed on TV licence. As much as this would be considered plus for some, I want characters to look like they are described in books, not their aproximations by TV.

  20. Snargelfargen says:

    The man in the last screenshot can’t see out from under his hood and that makes him SAD.

  21. pipman3000 says:

    i like it when they base fantasy book games off of the tv/movie version because it’s funny to see people who read nothing but genre trash act like they’re literati

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